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Fired? How to Discuss This During your Next Interview

August 28th, 2015

If your last job didn’t end very well and you were hustled out the door before you were ready, you probably experienced a range of emotions and concerns. If you’re like most job seekers, you probably wondered how you were going to handle your finances and how you would break the news to your family. You may also be facing another sticky challenge: how will you land your next job with this incident on your record? Answers to the first two questions will depend on your circumstances, but for the third concern, these tips can help.

Don’t mention the event in your application materials.

Leave all discussion of your firing out of your resume and cover letter. Don’t bring up the subject in any online or printed application unless you’ve been directly asked to do so, and if you are, answer using the fewest possible words. Try not to engage in this conversation at all until you can do so in person.

Don’t volunteer this information during your interview.

Again, there’s absolutely no need to offer this information or steer the conversation in this direction unless you’re directly asked. For example: “Why did you leave your last position?” or “Did you leave your last position voluntarily?” There’s nothing remotely dishonest about discussing other topics instead of this one. But if your interviewer does ask, be prepared.

Know the difference between a layoff and a firing.

If you were laid off, say so. Explain that your position was eliminated or your branch of the company was divested, and expect your interviewers to understand that this decision had nothing to do with your performance or behavior. Don’t use the word “fired” if you were dismissed though no action of your own.

Control the conversation.

If you really were fired as a result of performance or behavior, don’t testify against yourself. Keep the conversation short, positive, and under your control. As soon as possible, redirect the focus back to your talents and credentials. Notice how hard your interviewer pushes for the details, and read between the lines. For example, if you were fired due to low sales numbers, your interviewer may be concerned about your ability to perform sales-related tasks. Offer reassurance as needed. If she’s concerned about a potential behavior issue, briefly tell yours side of the story and explain what you learned from the incident. Make it clear that this poor behavior will never happen again.

Use the word “fit”.

If you were fired due to a complex personality mismatch, a he-said-she-said interpersonal conflict, or any other drama that can’t be understood out of context, don’t try to explain or tell the whole story. Just state that you and the job were not a “fit”. Then move on.

For more on how to handle this tricky conversation and bring it to a graceful end as soon as possible, reach out to the experienced staffing team at Merritt.

 

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